Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to improve and maintain your soil health to produce top yielding crops. Find out when to analyse your soil and how to interpret the samples. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, introducing organic matter and assessing fertiliser needs.

Advice and tips


Analysis: Can farmers be less reliant on fungicides?

Cereal growers looking to reduce their growing costs are increasingly questioning the need for four-spray fungicide programmes. With the focus on many farms shifting to soil health and sustainable farming…


Why soil N testing could save you cash this spring

Last season's unusual weather has led to more variation in soil nitrogen reserves and testing soils this spring will help farmer avoid wasting fertiliser. Most growers were unable to apply…


How early N fertiliser reduces the cost of summer drought

Many cereal growers will be looking to front-load their nitrogen fertiliser applications this spring after last summer's heatwave was blamed for limited uptate of the nutrient, which hit yields. Earlier…


How the potato industry can tackle blackleg

Blackleg is a costly disease in potatoes caused by several pectolytic bacteria that have the ability to infect and break down plant tissue, leading to storage losses and crop rejections.…

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Case studies


How to identify and encourage worms to improve soils

Earthworms are a key measure of soil health, as they can mobilise locked-up minerals, help drainage and spread organic matter to improve soil structure. Therefore, we travelled to one of…


How Oxfordshire farmer cleaned up a bad blackgrass problem

Piers Cowling manages 1,170ha of variable soils in a renowned blackgrass hot spot, and six years ago he realised that radical changes were necessary if he was to continue growing…


Farm manager's drought action plan results in 15% yield lift

Simon Eddell has spent the past seven years looking to improve his light Suffolk soils to cope with summer droughts, and the result is healthier crops and wheat yields up…


How four arable farmers made their farms more resilient

Tough times are ahead after Brexit and having a more resilient cropping system will be the key to arable farms weathering the storms. Here we take a look at how four…

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Can arable farming and wildlife conservation work together?

Farming is coming under greater pressure to halt the decline in wildlife. A major government project hopes to provide some of the answers in coming years, by balancing greater diversity with…


How farmers can help prevent 'mass extinction' of pollinators

Arable farming needs to change in order to halt declines in biodiversity and prevent one of the worst mass extinction events in history, a leading US entomologist has warned. Bold…


Are 100t/ha potato crops possible?

Potato yields in the UK appear to be faltering and one expert believes a yield competition like that seen with wheat could help the sector get closer to three-digit yield…


Two high-tech solutions to tackle poor soil health

With soil fertility and sustainability in the spotlight, two high-tech projects at the University of Plymouth could revolutionise the way farmers think about this precious resource. Scientists look to create…

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Soil mapping is set to get more accurate and detailed

Soil nutrient mapping is set to get a lot more accurate and detailed as the scanning technology used for detecting minerals from the air in Canada is being adapted for…


Survey finds worms are rare or absent in 40% of fields

A comprehensive worm survey of farms in England has shown they are rare or absent in two out of five fields, reflecting widespread historical over-cultivation. The #60minworms project required volunteer…


World Soil Day: Farmers urged to help halt soil pollution

Farmers and land managers are being urged to take urgent steps to stop soil pollution on farms as part of World Soil Day. The theme for this year’s World Soil…


Growers have more time to conduct worm survey

Arable growers now have until mid-November to take part in a rapid earthworm survey, designed to give farmers a heath check for their soils, after drought delayed the start of…

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Test and reviews


High-tech soil scanner delivers margin boosting data

The latest sensing technology to hit British shores is providing the data required to improve soil management and target inputs more efficiently than ever before. A handful of companies have…


New tractor tyre technology offers 18% more traction

The tyre designer’s job, it seems, is never done. As tractors continue to gain power and weight to meet farmer demand for greater performance, new tyre designs are needed to…

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Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…


Video: How to sample your soil for analysis

The quieter winter months are a prime time to get a snapshot of the state of soils and consider any adjustments to maximise fertility and crop potential. Unlike most other…


Video: No-till wins over grower to direct-drilling

New to no-till grower Richard Boldan is driving forward his plans to convert to a reduced cultivation system for a more sustainable future, with ambitions to grow more spring crops and establish…

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